Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Viewpoint: McCarthyite labels strip individuals of their humanity

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 68, 31 May 1990.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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ONE ONLY NEEDS to glance over the annals of history to see that nothing has stripped away the humanity of individuals and communities of color more than McCarthyism. By calling people “manipulators,” “deceptive,” with hidden agendas, etc., Daily articles have stripped away my and other people’s humanity. It is this atmosphere of fear of ourselves and others around us that one can only escape by turning on someone else and pointing a finger at your friends.

Hardly an “infiltrator” to the Chicano movement, I was born into it. Much like Delia Ibarra, I too was thrust into Stanford’s Chicano community as a frosh (and sophomore) member of El Centro Chicano’s staff trying to contribute to the advancement of Chicano people. As a sophomore, I was one of the co-founders of the current MEChA and was the co-chair last year.

A very vocal (some might say loud) Chicana female from a poor family background (I was born to a Chicano construction worker and factory worker on 6th Street in East Los Angeles), I have learned much since that time, and my motivation for being active and visions for Chicano students and people have remained constant.

I don’t want Chicanos or any other people to face the humiliation that my mother faced when speaking to her kids in Spanish in the supermarket. And I hope that no one’s father ever has to give up his dream of being a musician or an artist (as my father did) because of the ugly racism that permeates our society and keeps Chicanos from contributing all the beautiful things that we are capable of contributing.

Throughout my activism, my ideas, “affiliations” and visions have always been very public. Too many of our people’s lives have rotted away in gangs, drugs and prisons for me to be any less than public in my pursuit of a better tomorrow. I have been asked to speak at the National Chicano Student Conference, statewide MEChA conferences, Ivy League schools (no pun intended), community events up and down this state and even was one of the keynote panelists of this year’s You Can Make a Difference conference.

It is also no secret that I have long read and distributed Unity newspaper on campus and in the community. I have been part of Student Unity Network in this capacity and will never back down from my association with Unity newspaper or anyone who works for or with the paper. I have asked my friends and other people in the movement, including Delia, to be a part of SUN activities and workshops because I openly share my ideas.

This does not constitute “recruitment” into anything “secret,” as Delia Ibarra claims. And just like with anyone else, when the lack of interest was evident, I stopped inviting. I fail to understand how this action could constitute “marginalization” or harassment. I have learned a lot from the body of knowledge known as Marxism – from professors, fellow activists and, yes, even members of the League – all of which has not “manipulated” me or turned me into a monster.

The hysteria that currently plagues Stanford would never occur if we were to discuss the “influence” of the Hoover Institution, what goes on behind the closed doors and “secret” meetings of the Office of the President, the “manipulation” of public opinion by The Daily or the “hidden agenda” of Residential Education.

But if you are talking about communists or socialists, then hysteria and paranoia is exactly what occurs. How can I adequately address charges of being a member of a “secretive cult” which, among other things, “manipulates” people, “intimidates,” planned the takeover of University President Donald Kennedy’s office or forced someone to resign? (Which must, of course, all be true since it was printed in The Daily.) I’m guilty from the start.

To begin, I find it hard to believe that Delia Ibarra and Richard Suh or any other Stanford student can be “manipulated” by myself or anyone else. I, like anyone else (Ibarra and Suh included), participated in the movement and put my ideas to the vote and democratic process put in place by MEChA and the movement. When decisions were reached by the majority, I decided to put all my energy into carrying those decisions out. I and many others take personal responsibility for our actions, regardless of whether they are currently viewed as popular or not.

I must, of course, plead guilty to the heinous crime of “influencing” others with my own opinion. That my ideas were influential is also no secret, however, and was probably the reason that I was elected co-chair of MEChA. I suspect that everyone is influenced everyday by many ideas and opinions and assume that most people compare those ideas to their own particular experience and decide for themselves what to do – we are all adults. Rather than look for a boogy man (or, in this case, woman) to blame for their own past actions, Ibarra and Suh should take full responsibility for whatever they may have chosen to do.

But having said all this, if I am to be persecuted, maligned, degraded and dehumanized for my “affiliations” or “associations” then the claim that Stanford University is a free marketplace of ideas is a lie. I refuse to answer the “are you now or have you ever been” question, or more accurately the “we know you are and just admit it” question. I stand on my contributions, judge others by their contributions and commitment and expect to be judged by others in the same manner – not by my alleged “affiliations,” memberships or ideological beliefs. The Daily, Richard Suh and Delia Ibarra are undermining this most precious idea more than I ever “secretly” could.

I am stronger than ever in my commitment to the Chicano people. I know that, as Gorbachev has written in “Perestroika”: “People, human beings, with all their creative diversity, are the makers of history,” not supposed League members (or anyone else) pulling people’s strings or manipulating people behind the scenes.

Where there are concerns, injustice, homelessness or hunger, there will be protest to halt these atrocities in our world. And I will be there to play an active role in any way I can and I know that most people will rise to the occasion along with me and confront the ills in society.

Finally, I would like to share a quote from Paul Robeson, African-American playwright, activist, singer, etc. who was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and during the McCarthy era:

“I am not being tried for whether I am a communist, I am being tried for fighting for the rights of my people who are still second-class. You want to shut up every black who has the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of his people.”

Gina Hernandez Class of 1989